Movies succeed because they fit into the culture of the moment. Because they express or reflect something recognizably true about the values, customs and traditions that people in a given culture are living by. When David O. Selznick and Alfred Hitchcock made Rebecca in 1940, the naive, submissive attitudes of Joan Fontaine‘s character — literate, daydreamy, intimidated by the swells — struck some kind of chord with romantic-minded women of that era, all of whom had gone through the Depression and many of whom had presumably read Daphne du Maurier ‘s novel.

And by the standards of 1940, Laurence Olivier‘s Maxim de Winter wasn’t as much of an arrogant and insensitive chauvinist as he would seem today to any confident, forward-thinking woman watching the Hitchcock film.

All to say that a remake of Hitchcock’s film (and not an adaptation of DuMaurier’s book) by DreamWorks, director Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), screenwriter Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) and producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner sounds like a dicey idea. Presumably they’re going to make it as a ’30s period film but what woman would be able to relate? Maxim is totally impossible, and that world (Manderley, servants, George Sanders, Mrs. Danvers) existed 70-plus years ago. Our world has no ties or connections to it, or none to speak of.

All you could do to juice up the new version would be to strengthen “Danny’s” lesbian attachment to the dead Rebecca.

The important thing for everyone to remember is to never visualize Rebecca — no actress, no flashbacks, no dialogue. Keep her abstract and ethereal.